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The Places of Wit in Early Modern English Comedy


Award Winner
  • Author: Adam Zucker, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107463226

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About the Authors
  • What is wit made out of in the comedies of Shakespeare, Jonson, Shirley and their contemporaries? What does it hide? What does it reveal? This book addresses these questions by turning to the relationship between comic form and local history. Explorations of familiar sites, including Windsor Forest, Smithfield, Covent Garden and Hyde Park, are matched with close readings of drama that focus on overlays between theatrical, spatial, narrative and social conventions. Dramatic comedy's definitive interest in cultural competency and incompetence, and wit and witlessness, is revealed through discussions of commerce, gambling, royal forests and new or newly public spaces in and around early modern London. Along with Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and Ben Jonson's Epicene and Bartholomew Fair, special emphasis is placed on the neglected town comedies of the 1630s - the forerunners of the Restoration comedy of manners and the satirical realism of our own day.

    • Reveals a historical context for the abstract, but common, idea of 'wit', allowing the reader to understand it in a new light
    • Draws upon local histories in discussing dramatic comedy, which will appeal to readers interested in the history of familiar sites such as Windsor Forest, Covent Garden and Hyde Park
    • Discusses literary/comic form as a historical quantity - 'historical formalism' is an increasingly popular approach in literary studies
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    • Shortlisted for the Shakespeare's Globe Book Award 2012

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a beautifully written book, often as witty as the cunning and eloquent characters whose staged urban triumphs it examines.' Michael Dobson, Around the Globe

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107463226
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Shakespeare's green materials: Windsor Forest and The Merry Wives of Windsor
    2. Ben Jonson's gallant London
    3. Covent Garden: town culture and the location of wit
    4. Another green world: or, how to use Hyde Park
    Epilogue: the game of culture
    Works cited.

  • Author

    Adam Zucker, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Adam Zucker is Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he teaches courses on early modern drama and poetry.


    • Shortlisted for the Shakespeare's Globe Book Award 2012

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